With the Super Bowl on the horizon, supermarkets are using in-store playoff promotions as a way to support local teams and supply their customers with game-day necessities for home entertaining.
Many retailers consider customer convenience with their playoff promotions. For the Chicago Bears' game against the Seattle Seahawks, Illinois Jewel-Osco stores offered promotions on ready-to-eat products, including baby-cut carrots, radishes, celery and mushrooms for vegetable trays, tortilla chips, frozen pizza, fried chicken, and fresh cookie trays and cupcakes.
“The 2011 Snack Down Survey sponsored by Supervalu, Jewel-Osco's parent company, found that chicken wings and dips and spreads for use with chips, crackers or veggies topped the list of favorite game-day snacks among Chicago-area football fans, followed closely by pizza and chips or other salty snacks,” said Karen May, external communications manager at Jewel-Osco.
Publix Super Markets in Georgia locations geared up for the Atlanta Falcons playoff game against the Green Bay Packers with Publix-cut fruit, Hass avocados for guacamole, fruit and vegetable platters, all ready for football fans to take home to their living rooms. Publix offered dips, dressings and salsa, “the perfect complement for dipping veggies or topping chicken wings,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations at Publix, based in Lakeland, Fla.
“The deli is geared up for the big game! We offer a wide assortment of party platters to satisfy everyone's taste buds,” said Brous. “Our assorted flavors of deli wings, along with our famous fried chicken, will always be a hit,” she said, adding that Publix also offers balloons, deli tea, specialty cheeses, upscale crackers and deli-style snacks to enhance game viewing.
Onalaska, Wis.-based Festival Foods leaves no room to question its Packer pride. The team's official tailgate headquarters, Festival Foods greets customers with several displays throughout its stores that were filled up for the Packers game against the Falcons. Customers leave the store with Packers' shopping bags, and drop off their carts at carrels branded with the team logo and the store's “official tailgate headquarters” moniker.
For home games, Festival Foods converts its hot food bar into a tailgate center. “So you can pack up all that product hot and then take it home for your party,” said Nick Arlt, director of public relations.
In addition to offering the Packers' Lambeau Field's official burger, official hot dog and official deli meat with private-label deli supplier Kretschmar, Festival Foods uses creative promotions to help shoppers support their team. For the playoff game, the store offered a variety of meat trays, and cakes and cupcakes. One display featured a small cake with the Falcons' logo crossed out, which was surrounded by green cupcakes spelling “Go Pack!”
Even hamburger buns are dyed green and gold, and bakery items such as sweet rolls are sprinkled with green and gold sugars. Arlt said that normally the sight of green and gold hamburger buns would look weird, but Packers' fans get it.
This year one of Festival's locations is experimenting with putting Decopac images — normally seen on cakes — on pizzas, said Arlt. The customer bakes the pizza and puts the Packer image on a few minutes before it's done.
Festival's ties with the Packers extend to the field as well. Starting this season, Festival began hosting two eateries at Lambeau Field: Festival Foods Boomerang Café and Festival Foods Titletown Grill.
Jewel-Osco also found a way to bring the football field to its store. In addition to highlighting its promotions in weekly newspaper ads, in-store ads and on its website, three Bears' players — Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Charles “Peanut” Tillman — paid a visit to the Libertyville, Ill., in early January “to thank customers for their support this season,” said May.
“Not only did customers have fun watching Hester, Knox and Tillman bag groceries, this kind of event also helps draw attention to our playoff promotions,” said May, who added that customers can find event photos and videos on the Jewel-Osco Facebook page.
Retailers use their playoff promotions to show support for their team and increase sales, but also as a way to show city and state pride.
“Chicago is a strong professional sports town with loyal and dedicated fans in the city and surrounding suburbs, many of whom are also our customers,” said May. “Jewel-Osco recognizes this and takes great pride in offering promotions that provide savings and value to help customers celebrate major sporting events.”
Arlt agreed, noting that “we've been doing business since 1946 in Wisconsin. All of our stores are in Wisconsin so we try to have that pride.”
Whether for playoff parties, or other gatherings, the trend of home entertaining continues to thrive. “I think one of the things that's driven the increase in entertaining is basically just the overall increase in fascination with food,” said Jarrett Paschel, vice president of strategy and innovation at the Hartman Group, based in Bellevue, Wash., pointing out the amount of television shows devoted to food culture.
In the group's research, Paschel noted the penetration of “what some people would call fairly sophisticated food” across America and throughout social classes. “In other words, the average consumer is not always as trend averse as some people might speculate,” he said.